Program management is the strategic management of multiple related projects in order to execute them simultaneously and let them share resources and other activities. Basically, it is a grouping of individual projects that are somehow linked together based on their area of impact or common goal. Moreover, program management gives more visibility to stakeholders and ensures consistent management for achieving the shared organizational goal.
When an organization plans a large-scale initiative, such as a big product/feature release or digital transformation of the entire organization, it requires cross-functional cooperation along with external dependencies. It is not easy to achieve large-scale targets without opting for a program management-based approach. In this article, we will clear our concepts around program management and highlight the key roles it plays in large-scale initiatives.
What Is Program Management?
Program management is the strategic management of multiple related projects in order to execute them simultaneously and let them share resources and other activities. Basically, it is a grouping of individual projects that are somehow linked together based on their area of impact or common goal. Moreover, it gives more visibility to stakeholders and ensures consistent management for achieving the shared organizational goal.
Program Management vs. Project Management
Program management deals with multiple related projects, while project management deals with one single project. Some other key differences are as follows:
- Duration: A program targets long-term big goals of the organization, while a project targets short-term achievement.
- Strategic: Program management is more strategic, involving multiple small tactical goals to achieve, while project management only involves tactical goals.
- Link to Financial Calendar: Program management involves managing multiple projects to ensure deliveries based on the organization’s financial calendar, such as quarterly features release, etc. On the other hand, project management is isolated from the financial calendar and usually has its own deadline.
- Nature of Stakeholders: A program involves interaction with senior stakeholders and management, while a project involves more day-to-day operations with minimal interaction with the senior body.
Program management is all about managing individual projects to ensure consistent and timely delivery of a large-scale initiative. Every individual project in a program is managed by separate project managers, and all project managers are managed/governed by one program manager.
The program manager has a key role to make the program a success. He/she must set up a strategic development and delivery plan for every project, communicate with stakeholders, instruct project managers, continuously monitor the program progress, ensure quality deliveries of every project, and execute similar other activities. In short, the program manager oversees all the projects and evaluates them based on the large-scale initiative(s) the organization wants to achieve from them.
It also encourages standardized and consistent governance. When the program manager evaluates every project from a bigger lens, it helps to set standard quality requirements that must be ensured in all the project deliveries.
In addition, program management also eases the budget management process. Depending on the project’s complexity, the budgets can be assigned accordingly, while all the spending can be monitored from a central place. Overall, it is highly rewarding when an organization is targeting large-scale initiatives.